Tag Archives: alcoholism

Yuck the Fankees…And the Red Sux

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Day 346

I used to be a baseball fan; now I’m more of a crestfallen, half-assed spectator.  By half-assed spectator I mean if I happen to turn on the nonexistent TV in my house, or walk into a bar I no longer go to, and a game is on, I’ll root-root for the home team.

That said – I’ve never been a fan of the Yankees, which according to my geographic is the home team.  Erroneous.  I don’t like the Yankees for the same reason I don’t like the Red Sox anymore (or any major leagues) : lots of sports, no real teams.

The first time I fell for baseball was 2004.  My mom’s boyfriend at the time was a Red Sox fan; he gave me the lowdown of the players, the history behind their curse, and the unconformity of the Soxs’ raggedy scraggly ways.  As a 16-year-old pothead-wannabe-anything-chameleon-outcast, I could relate to their rebellious “we don’t wear pinstripe” ways.  Pinstripes to me were the equivalent of Vineyard Vines, and since I really needed things to hate besides myself, the Yankees and popped collars seemed like good places to start.

The year 2004 was the beginning of my dedicated relationship with drugs, alcohol, and a balanced diet of Beerio’s and bong rips for breakfast; “Beerios” being Cheerios with beers in the place of milk…ok I never did that (in high school) but you get the idea.

Anyway.  I came to know the players that season. I came to love the game.  And then…THEY WON!  The curse was broken! Red Sox for life, bitches!  Yuck the Fankees! Johnny Damon was my hero!  Beers and bongs for everyone! And then!!!……He joined the Yankees.

Seriously?

What kills passion quicker than a paycheck?

That was my first and last affair with “pro” sports.  Doesn’t sound very “pro”fessional to me, nor inspiring.  I could probably trace my rock bottom nearly 365 days ago to Johnny Damon’s soul selling contract in 2005.

…..Clearly I forgot to put some people on my 4th step.

There’s a point to all this, and that is, Johnny Damon is just as bad as A-Rod.  The End.

Ok just kidding. This was intended to be a post on the similarities between A Rod and alcoholics.  (Now that I’m an alcoholic I get to point the fingers at everyone else) but my emotional wounds of MLB are still open.  (Insert crying emoji here.)

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Disease-Doubt (Bear with me)

Day 276

There are two types of insecurities that run me around: self-doubt, and disease-doubt.  What’s disease-doubt?  I just made it up.  It’s the feeling I get when someone questions my alcoholism.

Self-doubt is what makes me feel inept, and fuels the “why even try” attitude; it’s in the same category as low self-esteem.  Fortunately, AA has been teaching me how to counteract insecurities by becoming a better person and finding out what the hokey pokey is all about.

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Disease-doubt stems from a very specific source: an old friend.  Every once in a while, a former partner in crime will waltz back into my life and say/ask in response to my sobriety:

“But you’re not an alcoholic?”

In the beginning, I had the same reasoning as said friends; I was a happy drunk, and for the most part, a party animal.  What they didn’t know was that I hated myself, and what I didn’t know was why I hated myself.

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I want to be sober, but when my decision is disputed by someone I care about, I doubt my disease. (Disease-doubt!)  It makes me feel foolish for being in AA, and throws my program for a loop.

In the right wrong state of mind, (that sounds weird) it’s easy to say:

“I wasn’t a daily drinker!”

(Never mind that I had to ask a friend every morning whether or not I had to be embarrassed of the night before.)

And then I’ll compare my coke habits to George Jung.

“I almost never did coke by myself!”

(Never mind that I’d go home with strangers, meet drug dealers in trailer parks, wait in parking lots for hours on end, and spend money I did not have.)

When I start making stupidly irrational justifications, I go to this quote for clarity:

“Alcoholism is 90% thinking, 10% drinking.”

No matter how bad, or not bad my substance abuse was there’s no refuting the fact that I can walk into an AA meeting, anywhere, and people in the room will understand, 100% of the time; we all speak the same language.

Speaking of language, they might even understand my new awesomely self-explanatory phrase “disease-doubt.”

(I googled group understanding and this is what came up…looks like AA to me.)

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The Days are Just Packed

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Day 253

The leaves are falling like multicolored raindrops, pumpkins are perched on porches, and that candy-corn crap that tastes like chalk is on sale; all telltale signs of October, yet I woke up this morning having no idea what month we’re in.  I mean I really had to think, which was initially unsettling.  Aren’t I supposed to be restoring my sanity, not losing it?

It turns out there is a simple explanation; time flies.  What a relief, I’m not crazy…okay I am a little crazy, but this sensation is normal; it’s just something I have not experienced in a very long time.  My life is full again and it’s moving faster than that starship in Star Wars.  I wish I had an ewok as a pet…Anyway…

Time in early-early sobriety moved slower than a three-toed sloth, probably because I was in so much pain; every step was excruciating, and I fought practically every inch of the way.  I wish someone had told me sooner that alcoholism is 90% thinking and 10% drinking; maybe it would’ve made those days easier.  Probably not. Fighting is inevitably painful and drawn-out whether it be against time, people, or Alcoholics Anonymous.

I have documented almost everyday of sobriety since my first AA meeting, and sometimes when I feel like I’m the same person who walked through the doors 253 days ago; all I have to do is scroll up.   Entries in the beginning had a common thread of agonizing resistance, and skepticism that almost took me out one hundred times.

Maybe I read too much Carl Sagon as an undergraduate, but I wanted to question everything about this program.  I wanted answers to the reasoning behind all steps and suggestions.  I wanted to debunk the theory of AA.  This skepticism, coupled with a yearning to bolt back to California made life drag on for a while.

By the grace of my Higher Power, I have stayed long enough to accept what I do not understand.  Acceptance has allowed me to let go; letting go let me surrender.  The moment I stop resisting the pain starts subsiding.  I’ve learned in the rooms that to surrender literally means to go to the winning side; surrender is what has saved my sobriety,  it’s given me a life so full I can barely keep up, and an awareness of what I need to keep going.

Time is flying because I have willingness to be a better person tomorrow than I was today.  The days are packed because I have accepted that I don’t know much, and there’s a lot more to learn.  Today, for example, I have learned that we are in the month of October, which means I must accept that I am approaching my first sober Halloween.  Weee.  Maybe I’ll dress up as Bill Wilson.

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Woe is me

I’ve been lamenting the loss of my old life all day, and I don’t wear mourning well.  I’m sure my appearance was almost as bad as my mental state this afternoon; bloodshot eyes from no sleep, sweaty and frumpy from a panic attack at work, and either on the brink of tears or seconds away from murder.

All the ways in which life is no fair have been accumulating in my head and I was fully prepared to embellish the crap out of them right here.  The thought of never again having a Thanksgiving dedicated to beer and football sent me even further into a “woe is I” orbit.

The pity party came to an abrupt end sometime about 5 minutes ago.  Writing has this crazy way of giving me clarity, and the clarity still sucks, but it brings me back down (or up?) to ground zero.

Rationale has informed me that it’s not that I can never drink…it’s that I can never drink safely.  I’ve heard of alcoholics harnessing their obsessions to drink like a normal person at least for a little while, but there’s no white knuckling it forever; ultimately the result is some variation of a painful, destructive, long or short shitty life.

When the present isn’t all peaches and cream, glorifying to the past is a knee-jerk reaction.  It was so much better then!  When I had wine!  And football!  And that little Italian restaurant!!

The reality is that the last time I had dinner at that Italian restaurant it wasn’t the food or company I was happy about; it was the bag of blow in my pocket I wasn’t going to share.  While everyone waited for the check to come I was in the bathroom taking key bumps.  This was in January, when I had a one-way ticket to Central America.  It’s a good thing I didn’t follow through with that plan…I hear the cocaine there is terrible.  Yikes.

There was nothing glorioius about Thanksgiving last year. I was still on the pot farm, and made plans to drive five hours south to spend the holiday with close friends who felt like family.  I would have made it, too, if the night before I hadn’t been guzzling three bottles of wine with a married-ish total-mistake-man.  Thanks to my impeccable decision-making, I spent the day puking in a house on the mountain with no electricity, no furniture, and nobody; there was no football and no beer.

At the first pot farm I lived on in 2010, for Thanksgiving my “co-worker’s,” and I spent $500 on food which I didn’t even end up eating because we started blowing lines too early.  Poor time management.

Two years later, as I puked my brains out by myself in an empty cabin one pot farm over, I reflected on that first Thanksgiving, (again, looking to the past), and thought how awesome that year had been.  It never struck me that things were getting progressively worse, or that that first year wasn’t as joyous as I had it written in my memory.  I have no idea what I just wrote.

Like I said, I don’t wear mourning well.

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Survival Skills

You mean this isn't okay?

You mean this isn’t okay?

Day 233

Getting sober entails so much more than putting down the drink and abstaining from cocaine.  This was brand new information.  I thought it’d be, “ok, don’t drink, ok, good job, you graduated.”  Lies.  Life altering revelations were blindsiding me in the very beginning, and they still are, but I’m taking notice of the smaller necessary changes, too. It’s like growing up for real this time; I just recently decided it’s time to start with a basic survival skill: cooking.

This morning started as Operation Make Omelet but ended in a near-fire bailout.  It began innocently enough; eggs in a bowl, check; mix eggs around; check; put nonstick stuff in stupid-proof-omelet device…Fail.  Spilling oil all over the burner didn’t seem like a big deal to me, until everything started smoking and Safety Squad Mom was called for backup.  Evidently that’s a great way to start a fire. No big deal, I’ll use the other burner.

Fat chance.  Things were back on track until the omelet device started spewing egg guts and hot oil everywhere. I have the disease of more, dammit, and three eggs with five sides of veggies couldn’t fit in the stupid-proof-easy-omelet-maker-thingy.  There was too much everything so naturally I panicked and tried to prematurely flip the whole kit and kaboodle.  This is where it really went down hill.

The double sided pan was never securely fastened, so when I tried to turn it upside down everything went upside down with it.  Avocados sizzled on burners everywhere, egg yoke dripped into the deepest darkest parts of the mean cooking machine, onion bits fell to the floor all slimy and slow in whisked grossness…I mean it was a real disaster.  Mom Squad heard my war cry and calmly came to the rescue. She assessed the scene, turned off the burners, and tried to scoop up the remains of my failure…it was shameful.

I had toast instead.

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Here Lies Faith Anonymous

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There’s a section of town I try to avoid at all costs.  If the route is absolutely inescapable I hold my breath until I’m through, like a kid would when passing a graveyard.

In the most dramatic sense, that part of town is analogous to a graveyard.  My headstone would read:

Here lies Faith Anonymous

Who Woke up One Morning

And Realized She Couldn’t

Do it Anymore

1987-2013

The dawn of that “One Morning” was the ugliest thing I’d ever seen.  My hung over eyes opened and blurred vision focused on one tiny window in the corner of what appeared to be a basement.  The winter grey light flatly illuminated the scene.  Unfamiliar surroundings were no novelty, but this was different.  Waking up in the basement of a stranger’s house wasn’t what perturbed me, or the inability to recall how I got there.  There was an emptiness..it felt like there was nothing left of the person I once was.  Generally my specialty was spinning these scenarios into humor because it was the only way to mask my misery; if I could laugh at myself I could lie to myself.

There was no pretend laughter.  It was a white flag surrender in an excruciatingly painful moment of clarity, I can’t do this anymore. Alcoholics Anonymous had never once crossed my mind as somewhere I thought I belonged, but there I was; 6am, ass planted on an ice-cold curb, waiting for my Knight in Shining Taxi, and a message louder than my hangover blaring inside my head: AA is the answer.

After what felt like eternity Knight Cabbie found me at no address in particular.  It took me 3 tries to to find my car. Third time’s the most shameful.  I paid the man, prayed that I’d never see him again, and went straight home to  google “How to tell if you’re an alcoholic.”  The overwhelming yeses from the generic questionnaires weren’t enough.  Now what? I needed someone to talk this through with; not my mom, not my dad, not even my closest friends.  I think I was worried they’d tell me it was fine, which I knew I wasn’t.

A couple minutes later a text came in from my best friend’s ex-girlfriend. We’ll call her B.  She is someone I know a little and love a lot.  Whatever your understanding of God is, it was one of those moments, a divine intervention, whatever.

Blacked out or not, drinking had become trivial without coke.  The second a beer was in my hand, I wanted something up my nose and I didn’t care what lengths I had to go to, or what bridges were burned.  B was furious, and rightly so. I had called her boyfriend who was trying to get sober at the time to help get me blow the night before. Not cool.  And for the first time ever, I didn’t want to victimize myself to into a way out.  This was my chance.  “You’re absolutely right,” I wrote back, “And I need help.”   I ended up on her couch that morning which was a foreign place for me.  B and I were never friends on the level of “come over and sit on my couch,” or “what’s your favorite color,” but there I sat.

“Do you think I’m an alcoholic?”  I asked fearfully.

She paused in thought and said,

“I think you’re struggling with addiction.”

needed someone else to say it.  Half my mind was telling me I was overreacting; that this was just one more reason to really start controlling my drinking. The other half wanted to hear exactly what B verified.  She brought her laptop to the floor of the living room and we searched for meetings.  A friend ended up navigating us to a site and I went to my first meeting that night.  I’ve been to one almost every night since.

When I pass that section of town I can still see myself sitting in the cold dead dawn.  They say when you hit rock bottom you have no where to go but up; so in a fucked up way I am glad my disease kicked me to the curb.  Just not glad enough to comfortably drive near, through or around the scene of the crime.

I wonder what would have happened if B never sent me that text message, or if I hadn’t blacked out that night, if I didn’t end up on her couch that morning.

More importantly I wonder what wouldn’t have happened.  Two hundred and thirty two days later I am no longer the shell of a human being. At the age of 26 I have finally started living.  Maybe a better message carved on my headstone would be:

Here Lies Faith Anonymous

Who Died and Came Back to Life

Just like Jesus.

KIDDING. Totally kidding.

But really.

2013-Present Day

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Freight Trains & Growing Pains

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For the past two weeks I have been nannying a 10-year old girl.  That’s a lie; for the past two weeks she has been nannying me.

The first morning I was hyper.  Four cups of coffee before 7am will do that.  Bombarding her with questions, I asked about Benjamin Franklin, (I know this was important to the kid in “Big Daddy” so it must pertain to her), I observed her soccer gear and asked about her affinity for sports, the first tooth she lost, what the weather would be that day, if she wanted to play tic-tac-toe, (she didn’t), and basically everything except for her social security number.  Finally I calmed down enough to read her facial expression that said: pump the brakes, Lady.

I dropped her off for school and thought to myself, FaithAnonymous you are such a weirdo.  No doubt she was thinking the same thing.

The second morning we played basketball but the game came to an abrupt halt when I got excited, threw the ball too hard, and it landed in an algae infested river thing, or a stream of contaminated water…hard to tell.  Nevertheless we got to work MacGyvering a device for “Operation Save Basketball.”  This rescue mission was a pivotal point in our nanny-nanny relationship.

By the third day, we were head-banging in the kitchen, blasting Led Zeppelin on the way to school, and yelling “OH YEAAAH,” in a voice similar to the Koolaid man or a WWF wrestler.  Then she had to remind me to remind her not to forget her soccer stuff.  “Oh yeah, don’t forget your soccer stuff.”

The hour before school is the only time I get to spend with “Miss. Anonymous,” we’ll call her, and the block of time troubled me at first.  I knew this gig would be taking precedence over my morning meetings and on days I wake hating the world, myself, and everyone involved,  a dose of AA is the only restart button at my disposal.  What I have learned is that this morning interaction has a new pathbreaking impact on my day.

In addition to teaching me how to shoot hoops, she has reeducated me on multiplication times tables, informed me (just in time) that olive oil is not the same as Crisco when it comes to waffle batter, and that cake is not an acceptable breakfast.

This morning as I practiced my newly acquired culinary skills, she supervised from the end of the counter.  Something caught her eye right before my flawless fried egg flip.

“Woah!”  She said, standing in front of the toaster, looking at her reflection in the silvery stainless steal. “I used to have to stand on my tip toes to see my reflection on here, and now I don’t have to!” She exclaimed as she looked at her own face at eye level.

Something about this moment made time stand still in a beautiful way.   It was like watching life in slow motion. She was elated at her discovery on the toaster and the physical proof of growing up.

I am a “grownup” but I will never be  grown up; that implies that I’ve stopped growing.  Every single day there are new bits of knowledge thrown my way and I have to be open to receive.  Sometimes they are something small, like how to make waffles; sometimes it’s character building, like witnessing and acknowledging a kind gesture that gives me faith.  And sometimes it’s a freight train blaring across my path, screaming, you’re an alcoholic, and it’s okay to ask for help.

Maybe for a kid life is like a high-speed rail with information whizzing by so fast that they don’t even know they’re trying to catch up.  If I remember correctly, 10 is the age where information slows down enough to begin processing; except I guess it’s not slowing down; it’s just the kids growing up.  Catching up.  Suiting up for the freight trains and knowledge bombs. I wish I could tell Miss. Anonymous that once the train starts it is full speed ahead.

Or, on a lighter note, I could tell her this.

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Holy Emotional Upheaval

Day 228

Step 4 and 5 kicked my ass.  I’m glad to be just another bozo on the bus, but this bozo was running out of meetings practically weeping. The emotional upheaval of step 4 aka Pandora’s Box of Pain, aka grievous fortification was an anguish I didn’t even know existed.

My insides wanted to collapse; something no one should have to witness–so I ran.   I ran outside, took a left, right into a graveyard.

Between my tears and peoples’ graves and the metaphorical rain cloud above my head I decided it was all a little too intense.  Knowing what would help most was the experience, strength, and hope of another alcoholic; I headed back up the stairs just as a friend was coming down.  She told me I was in a safe place and I knew she was right.

Step 5 was almost as amazing as people said it would be. It took almost 4 hours to go through the resentments I had against myself.  At the end my sponsor put her hand on my shoulder and said, “You never have to be that person again.”

Fast-forward a couple hours.  I’m standing in the kitchen eating a salad, nighttime, late dinner as usual.  All of a sudden my throat started closing, breathing was shallow and breaths were broken.  I looked down at my salad…almonds!!! I’ve developed allergies as an adult before and despite the fact that I’ve never been allergic to nuts, I figured that the allergy gods were rearing their ugly allergy heads.

To avoid an untimely death I went to the walk-in ER and told them I was having a fatal allergic reaction.  The doctor saw me almost immediately.

“This is not an allergic reaction,” he said calmly.

“Yes it is.”  I said shakily and dumbfounded, you stewpid doctor. 

“Have you gone through anything emotional today?”

I paused.  Shut the fuck up.

“Yeah, Step 5.” I answered

“What’s step 5?” He asked, I was almost offended that he didn’t know.  This is all about me, dammit.

So I told him.

“Jesus, yeah, that’ll do it.  You’re having a panic attack.”

Classic, the only panic attack I’ve ever had was after the 5th step.  My resentments almost took me out!  Literally! The next day at a meeting I demanded $537 out of the basket for my ER visit due to step work.  I was only half serious.

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Accept, Change, Carry On

“If nothing changes then nothing changes.”

What an obnoxiously on-point and impactful quote.  The first time I heard this my reaction was, “thank you Captain Obvious.”  Then I paused.  Change is everything. Ugh, I still want to say “duh.”  After giving time time in this program I have learned that my mind, body, and soul need complete reconstruction, and that’s putting it lightly.

My mind is a tear-down. Every notion I had about myself needs to do a 180.  Where I used to say I’m stupid, I have to say I’m smart.  Where I say I’m ugly, I have to say I love myself.  When I say I want a boob job, I have to tell my insecure thoughts to take a hike, because I’m beautiful the way God made me.

When life used to bitch slap the bejeesus out of me (still does) and the only solution I could find was at the bottom of a bottle, now I must pick up the phone, pray, ask for something greater than me to remove the obsession, and write a gratitude list because being ungrateful is old behavior. When I used to feel discomfort in my own skin so extreme that I had nowhere to go except mental and physical isolation, I must now bare-knuckle the unease until it passes.

The way I view people must change.  Passing judgment was a way of life and it took many forms; belittling someone in my head, talking shit on a person who has done nothing to provoke my personal space.  I know now that when I am judging someone else I am judging myself. When I judge others I am envious and I must derogate the person who has more than me; whether it be money, happiness, or security.  Jealousy was too hard to admit.  It was better to make myself feel bigger so my ego wasn’t in jeopardy.  The ego had to go, too.

They say the same alcoholic will drink again and sometimes I feel like the same person who walked through the doors 227 days ago. I’ll ask myself what the hell I’ve been doing this for and why the fuck I’m still here. Then I look back at my journal entries (which I wrote in TextEdit because I had no Word Document, so ignore the typos), and the steps I’ve taken cannot be gainsaid.

On March 9, 2013 when I had just a little over 30 days I wrote about my share from that morning:

  i spoke and said I was glad that he said that because the topic was “elation.” i said that when i feel elated i hold on to it for dear life.  holy shit, i’m happy and it’s not from drinking, and that is what i want.  i said i see triggers everywhere. i can’t listen to the radio anymore, it’s a trigger. commercials, songs, all triggers. north korea is a trigger. and not because i think they’re actually going to nuke us, just because i can’t stand it when someone doesn’t like me.  but here i am completely unlikeable. i’m such a bratty walking pity party.  i said i was walking around last night, seeing the train go back and fourth to NYC. i was thinking about how awesomely ironic it would be if i were to be hit and killed by a drunk driver.  not normal thoughts.  i said i can pretty much look at a pile of dirt right now and see a line that needs to be chopped up. i said i know it’s only been 30- something days but i feel like i’m regressing. i said all i feel is anger.  when i see someone celebrating i don’t think, oh i want to celebrate with you, i think, i hate you.  and i want to be drinking.  i said i have nothing to drown my depression and i have nothing to mask my insecurities and the whole world is trying to get me to drink. except for AA. i said i remembered one guy in a darien meeting who said, i just want to get over myself. i said that is exactly how i feel. it resonated at the time but i didn’t understand it till now. the world is not all about me.  it really is not.”

This was my most recent entry, on August 31, 2013:

“Sometimes I question my alcoholic legitimacy.  If I am an alcoholic, then why haven’t I relapsed yet?  Then I think, why would I ever leave this? Sobriety is the best thing that’s ever been mine.  It’s been the most important decision of my life.”

Amen, past self.

Ignoring reality was easy before I knew I was an alcoholic because I had one phrase conveniently engrained whenever I needed it: “deny, deny, deny.”  That has changed. (There’s that word again).  Now my mantra is: accept, change, carry on. 

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The Committee

voices in my head

Day 226 

A few weeks ago a friend asked me:

“Do you ever feel like your thoughts are having battles in your head?  One thought will come in and then be counteracted by another almost immediately?”

“Oh yeah,” I said, “my Dad calls those voices ‘The Committee.'”

Papa Dukes, also an alcoholic, (you know how we alchies love to keep it in the fam), made me feel better about the clusterf*ck of thoughts ricocheting across the walls of my brain by giving them a label…”The committee.” My theory is that everyone has these ping-ponging mental combats, but in alcoholics The Committee screams, fights, and squalls more than a sober mind.  Otherwise our minds wouldn’t be such a dangerous place, right?  Again, that’s just my theory.

Anyway, I have since passed this comical light of craziness onto my homies in the program.  It comes in handy all the time, like this morning, when conversing via text with an amazing artist and friend of mine.  She told me that my blog has been helping her; this gave me the chills and a huge smile.  She then went on to tell me of her art project inspired through sobriety and I can’t think of anything more beautiful than using our minds in a healthy way for the first time in probably forever.

After hearing the awesomeness and wonder of her creative juices in the works I said,

“God I love art!!  I feel like creativity has opened up in sobriety.  Our brains are exploding!  Like confetti!”  I typed excitedly, to which she responded,

“It’s the committee in our heads…starting to vomit.”

“HAHAHAHAHA”

This is the kind of morning that makes the day-count count.

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